One of the most difficult parts about being a parent is knowing how to prevent one’s child from abusing drugs. Programs like D.A.R.E. have proven to be widely ineffective for a variety of different reasons. For too long, parents have had misconceptions about the proper way to speak to their children about drugs and alcohol. In some cases, parents decide to avoid the subject entirely, or they assume alcohol and drug use is normal.

It’s extremely important to take this matter seriously because young people are the most susceptible to the disease of addiction. The prefrontal cortex of the brain is part of the brain that helps people make logical choices, and it has many other functions. This part of the brain doesn’t fully develop until someone is close to about 25 years old, so it’s much easier for young people to use alcohol or drugs as coping mechanisms, which can lead to addiction [1].

Keep Lines of Communication About Substance Abuse Open

Young people are naturally curious, and they’re constantly learning. There are some parents out there who would much rather avoid the subject of discussing drugs and alcohol with their children in hopes that he or she will make the right choices. Some young people are afraid to talk to adults about drugs and alcohol in fear of getting in trouble. This puts young people in a position where they want to try for themselves, which can lead to problems.

The best thing you can do is keep the lines of communication with your child open when it comes to this topic. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 70 percent of high school seniors will have tried alcohol, and 20 percent will have used a prescription drug for a non-medical purpose [2]. It’s never too early to begin talking to your child about drugs and alcohol. By doing this, it means when your child clearance to ask you questions if they feel as though they’re being peer pressured to try alcohol or drugs.

Drug Testing Your Child can Help

This may seem like it’s crossing some sort of boundary with your child, which will make your child think you don’t trust him or her. The reality of the situation is that most young people don’t think their parents trust them anyways. Randomly drug testing your teen not only keeps you in the know, but it also gives your teen a great excuse not to drink or use drugs.

Think about it. Most young people are going to get pressured into drinking or using drugs at some point. If he or she says no, they may be ridiculed by their peers for turning down the offer. When the teen can say with complete honesty that his or her parents randomly do drug tests, your child’s peers will see that they have an extremely valid excuse not to drink or use drugs.

Be Honest About the Situation

There’s an epidemic in the United States, and it’s alright to discuss this with your child. If your specific community, city or state has a big problem with drugs, then talk to your child about it. Explaining why so many people have developed an addiction brings your child to the same level as you to have a meaningful conversation about the topic. Young people see what’s happening, but they may not always know why, and this will help explain the situation.